Saturday, March 24, 2007

UNFAITHFUL (20th Century Fox 2002) Fox Home Video

Adrian Lyne’s Unfaithful (2002) is a film that attempts to do for cheating wives what Lyne’s own Fatal Attraction (1987) did for philandering husbands; scare the hell out of them by presenting a series of dire consequences for their actions. Unfortunately, in scope, acting and overall suspense, this excursion proves once too often a visit to the same well.

The story begins inside the idyllic country home of Ed (Richard Gere) and Connie Sumner (Diane Lane). Presumably a happy home, with their son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan) providing minor incidents and mishaps – but nothing that cannot be overcome with a little TLC - the Sumner’s certainly seem to have it all; financial success, commitment and the ability to travel and mix in the right crowd. Everything is in place except the one essential Connie needs more than anything else – passion.

It proves everything, when Connie accidentally meets struggling artist and book seller, Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez). Before long, Connie and Paul have migrated from chatting up about first editions and tenderizing bruised knees to feeling each other’s unmentionables for weekly extracurricular activity. At first, Ed suspects nothing. Gradually, he assumes the worst and decides to follow his wife into town. Consumed by rage and self pity, Ed murders Paul - then doesn’t quite know what to do with the rest of his life.

The chief problem with the screenplay by Alvin Sargent is that it entirely lacks in sympathy for Connie. As an audience, we instantly come to despise her betrayal and find her repeated cover-ups despicable, rather than an erotic release for her pent up marital tensions. If anything, the Sumner home is a ‘tension-free’ zone.

Whereas Michael Douglas’ betrayal of the perfect wife in Fatal Attraction was predicated on his instant attraction to the ‘bad girl,’ Connie’s infatuation with Paul seems school-girlish and unworthy of her as a woman. She’s not escaping the congeniality of the perfect home for something different, but merely bed-hopping for the thrill of a change of venue. In the end, Unfaithful is just that – a filmic experience that lacks fidelity to its roots as a romantic mystery/thriller.

Fox Home Video’s DVD exhibits a middle-of-the-road transfer; anamorphic widescreen with muted colors and contrast levels that are a tad lower than expected. Film grain is rather obvious at times. Blacks are often deep gray. Fine details are lost during darker scenes. Whites adopt a yellowish tint. Edge enhancement is present throughout and occasionally distracts. Pixelization is present also. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and delivers a subdued sonic spread. Extras include several featurettes on the making of the film and an excerpt from ‘The Charlie Rose Show’ with Richard Gere.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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